Panthers to open season tonight at Butler County
By Jim Turner


Posted on August 18, 2022 1:50 PM



 

The first look at how the Russellville Panthers will follow up last year’s memorable, magical season comes tonight when Coach Mikie Benton takes his team to Butler County to take on the Bears in a rare Thursday night game.

The Panthers put up big numbers last year, including the state’s highest RPI in Class 1A, 12 wins,449 points scored (as compared to the opposition’s 169), 3,044 rushing yards (to 1,509), 1,509 passing yards (to 872), 4,553 total yards (to 2,387), 23 passes intercepted (compared to 9 thrown), 52 extra points kicked, and 16 fumbles recovered.

RHS finished as state runner-up with a 12-2 record, regional and district championships, and Benton as state Coach of the Year. Four of the seniors (Braxton Baptiste, Jovari Gamble, Lennon Ries and Anthony Woodard) are now on NCAA Division I football teams. Dustin Brown, who kicked those extra points and punted, is playing for Union College. Two-time all-stater Chevis Elliott is playing for Lindsey Wilson.

Tremendous!

The downside is that most of those numbers were recorded by one of the best senior classes ever at RHS, bolstered by several fifth-year seniors who took advantage of an extra year of eligibility, thanks to COVID cutting many seasons short the year before.

Lineman Camden Phillips, who’s back for his senior season, was the only underclassman to earn postseason honors last year.

The 2022 Panthers return 10 players who recorded a statistic last season. They combined for 14 yards passing, 27 yards rushing, 3 fumbles recovered, 2 sacks and 74 tackles. No one is back who caught a pass, scored a point, kicked the ball, or made an interception.

Below are their current class, the categories in which they placed last year, and their rank on the team in those categories.

Octavious  McKeage, sophomore; 2 for 14 passing for 6 yards, third; 8 rushes for 26 yards, fifth; 3 defensive fumbles forced, first; 2 fumble recoveries, tied for second; and 13 tackles, tied for 17th.

Montie Williams, junior: 4 rushes for 5 yards, 10th; 1 fumble recovered, tied for seventh; 8 tackles, 20th

A.J. Woodard, sophomore: 1 rush for minus 4 yards, 11th; 2 fumbles forced, second; 3 tackles, tied for 22nd

Camden Phillips, senior: 13 tackles, tied for 17th; 1 sack, tied for third

Caleb Harper, junior: 27 tackles, tied for sixth

Samuel Edge, sophomore: 4 tackles, 21st

Adrian Taylor, senior: 3 tackles, tied for 22nd; 1 sack, tied for third

Grayson Beard, sophomore: 2 tackles, tied for 24th

Gage Bollenbecker, sophomore: 2 tackles, tied for 24th

KeVauhn Edmonds, junior: 1 tackle, 27th

Butler County, which managed only 31 yards against the Panthers in last year’s season opener, won their next four games and finished the season with a 6-5 record.

Sophomore Garrett Phelps, who is expected to start at quarterback for the Bears, didn’t record any statistics in last year’s game.

 

               




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